Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School Drimnagh News – December 2020

Message from Principal and Deputy Principal December 2020

At OLM Drimnagh our motto is “Shaping a Brighter Future for Our Young People”. This year is like no other year, due to the fact that we, like every other CEIST school are dealing with massive challenges from Covid-19. However, we are still committed to meeting the needs of  all our student cohort so that each student can reach their full potential in a safe, happy and healthy school environment. We made huge efforts to ensure that we could open and stay open safely, which we have thankfully managed to achieve thus far. Our students, teachers and SNAs have adapted magnificently to the ‘new normal’ of OLM and it is working well. Our hope is that we can continue to operate safely for all, and we would like to thank everyone in our community for being continuously Just and Responsible.

We have some exciting news for the future of OLM Drimnagh. We have finally been approved for an Additional Accommodation Project, as well as some essential Emergency Works. The total grants approved are in the region of €4.4 million and represents a significant investment, not just for OLM, but for the wider community of Drimnagh. The projects include a new Woodwork and Preparatory Room, New Music & Technology Room, 4 additional Classrooms, a state of the art SEN Unit & Sensory Garden, refurbishment of staff and students bathrooms and redevelopment of the lobby and front of the building. All of this will help to ensure that OLM Drimnagh is equipped to offer the best possible Teaching and Learning suited for the 21st Century and this fits in well with our CEIST values of Achieving Quality in Teaching and Learning and Creating Community.

Showing Respect for Every Person is possibly the most important of our CEIST values in OLM. We are fully aware that the wellbeing of students and staff is equally as important as being physically able to reopen safely. At OLM Drimnagh we continue to do our very best to ensure that everyone feels happy and safe in school and that we remind ourselves of those that are less fortunate. Three of the major events that stand out this first term are Stand-Up Week, Movember and Music_For_Change. A wide array of seminars, webinars and presentations took place during Stand-Up Week and culminated in a non-uniform day where everyone was encouraged to wear one of the colours of the rainbow. Thanks to Ms. Flanagan and the Wellbeing Committee for their excellent organisation of this week. This coincided with the third week of Movember, where some of the male members of staff agreed to grow a moustache in aid of Men’s Mental Health, raising €1,866. Thanks to Mr. Murphy for getting so many volunteers on board for a great cause.  Our very own 5th Year Student, Aaron O’Connor is involved in Music_For_Change, linking in with many prominent DJs and having a fund raising non-uniform day on the last Friday of each month in the run up to Christmas. Aaron has raised over €2,000 to date with the help of OLM students in aid of the homeless in Dublin City. Well done Aaron.

November is remembrance month and gives us a chance to publicly Promote the Spiritual and Human Development that we value in OLM. Given the restrictions on interaction and social distancing rules, celebrating our annual remembrance mass was not possible this year. Mr. Jenkins, head of R.E. and Fr. Dave came up with the brilliant idea of a holding a remembrance service of light. It was a very moving and intimate ceremony celebrating the lives and memories of those who we have lost in our community over the previous 12 months. The ceremony was followed by a reflection piece presented by Mr. Jenkins over the intercom for the entire school. Thanks to Mr. Jenkins and Fr. Dave for organising this great event. Thanks to Ms. Regan for leading a small school choir, who alongside Mr. Parker and Mr. Jenkins sang beautifully throughout the service.

“Shaping a Brighter Future for Our Young People” is at the centre of what we do in OLM. Last year’s 6th Years achieved amazing results, including Erika Ashe, who appeared on the RTÉ news and achieved 577 points in her Leaving Certificate. Our everyday programmes of JCSP, TY and LCA are central to ensuring that this upward trend of attainment and progression continues. Ms. Donovan is our programmes coordinator and does huge work behind the scenes organising the various activities associated with the different programmes. Although this school year has gotten off to a different start our TY, LCA and JCSP programmes are still running extremely well. Our TYs have a wide range of different courses and programmes running for them this year. Zoom and Teams have become our new way of delivering these programmes and workshops. This year the TYs are taking part in the GAA Leadership Programme, Young SVP, Lift (Leading Ireland’s Future Together) Programme, Street Law, Peer and Community Mentoring linking to TA21. We were very lucky to have a Movie Magic Workshop where the students filmed, edited and produced their own movies and story lines. They participated in a Maths juggling workshop too.  To finish off the term on a very positive note, students received end of Session 1 awards.

Our LCAs were still able to have their class Bonding Day where we had TeamWorks come into the school. This was a Covid friendly team building day of activities that was based on development, fun, participation and getting our students to work collaboratively. For both our LCAs and TYs work experience, students complete online courses linked to the world of work. Staff monitor and check in with students to see how they are getting on and track their progress. We will be working with the Dublin City Student Enterprise Programme in the coming months. Our LCAs will set up and run their own business and find out what it is really like to be an entrepreneur by taking part in this enterprise education learning programme. As part of this students come up with the business plan focused on the areas of marketing and sales.

Our JCSP Team have applied for different initiatives this year to focus on our DEIS targets. We focused on the areas of literacy, numeracy, attainment, and retention when applying for these initiatives. Our literacy initiative is underway with our 1st year students and the numeracy initiatives will commence after Christmas.  Our students entered the JCSP Design a Stamp Competition ‘Staying Well in 2020’. All students designed a stamp during their SPHE classes as part of the competition. They produced some lovely pieces of Art. Finally, we celebrated our JCSP Profile of Achievement awards in September. This gave the students an opportunity to reflect on their time in Junior Cycle and all the great things they individually and collectively achieved over the 3 years.

College Awareness Week gave us a unique opportunity in the COVID-19 scenario to give our students some understanding of what the future could hold in terms of career progression. TY and 6th Year students participated in Mock Interviews online and in person. This is an essential part in their preparation for making applications to colleges of further education, apprenticeships, and/or the world of work. 5th and 6th Year students received a study skills seminar which helped them to further develop their own revision skills techniques when preparing for inhouse and state examinations.

UCD, NUIM, DCU, Trinity, TUD, Greenhills College, Inchicore College, Crumlin College were some of the colleges of further education and universities who provided valuable information sessions to our senior cycle students about courses on offer.

We were blessed to have over 50 guest speakers, mostly online talking to our students about their education and career journey to date. Students received a glimpse of what it is really like to work in different careers sectors such as medicine, sport, radio, gaming, physio, teaching, fire service, gardai, ambulance service, youth work and much more! Overall, the feedback from students was very positive. Some of the nuggets of advice they received from guest speakers included ‘wake up and be grateful, always keep educating yourself’, hard work pays off and try getting a job/course you like as it won’t feel like work’.

It was fantastic to see our 1st Year students create a poster about where they see themselves in 6 years. We will have some students training to become lawyers, boxers, graphic designers, doctors, vets, nurses, beauticians and much more. It will be great to facilitate them in achieving these career goals.

Thank you to our TA21 committee and CAW TY committee for ensuring that the events ran as smoothly as could be in the current climate. To have over 50 speakers online throughout the week was a massive undertaking and achievement. Thank you to Sadie Larkin, from Clikln who was instrumental in helping us gather volunteers to partake in this event, and who applied for and obtained 12 ThinkPad laptops which were kindly donated by the Iris O’Brien foundation to help those less fortunate work online at home during school closures, in class, and for linking in with our guest speakers and interviewers.

As we come to the end of 2020 it is quite apparent that it has been and still is a very challenging year for us all. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their continued support and to wish our staff, students, and parents, as well as our colleagues in CEIST schools and the CEIST office a happy, peaceful and healthy Christmas and New Year.

Pádhraic Gibbons                                          


Nuala Brady

Deputy Principal